FLUBBER’S GAME OF THE WEEK: BUFFALO vs FLORIDA

FlubbersGOW900Hey, so, um, here’s the Game of the Week which features a couple of teams that were major players in the trade deadline andOH WHO AM I KIDDING THIS IS A MASSIVE DUMPSTER FIRE SEND HELP

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Deadline Dealers

Okay, so, the crumbling remains of these two teams are left to play out the string after an explosive trade deadline that saw them dump a whole bunch of useful players in exchange for a bunch of future picks and players that will also get traded in the event that they perform well at the big league level.  Let’s take a look at how these teams made out at the deadline.

Buffalo

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The first move for Buffalo, obviously, was unloading franchise goalie Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott for a mess of Blues goodies.  Draft picks, Chris Stewart, the Blues second round pick from last year, and Jaro Halak.  Despite what happens to the Blues this year (and remember, they are still very much the Blues), it appears Buffalo made out well in this trade at the present moment as well as looking towards the future.

 

 

I, for one, cannot wait for the Halak-era to start in Buf…

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Oh.

Well, hey, Michal Neuvirth is cool too, I guess.

Hey, yeah. Good for them.

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Florida

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Okay, so trading away one of your better defenders for only a late round pick is kind of questionable, Florida,  but he is a UFA at the end of the season.  Pirri was expendable for Chicago, but good on Florida for grabbing him for a generally low price.2

Oh. My.  Bringing back Luongo, despite giving up Matthias, is the greatest thing the Panthers could have done.  More on that later.  Plus, noted patriot Tim Thomas and marketing genius Roberto Luongo – the starting goalies of the 2011 Final – sharing the same goal crease?  We lowly peons of hockey fandom are truly blessed.  How are we to react to such great news?

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Okay Florida, you aren’t doing yourselves any favors trading away a serviceable forward, but, hey, draft picks.  He’s a UFA at the end of the season.  The future, the process, the future, the process, etc.4

 

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Bobby Lu Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

Read this article from the Florida Panthers official site on the return of Luongo to South Florida.  We’ll go over the highlights together.

For starters, here is the subheadline:

The Panthers scored big with one of the biggest acquisitions around the NHL.

Okay.  Here we go.

“This year’s deadline once again produced some high drama, and the Panthers were right in the middle of it with one of the biggest deals throughout the league.

TSN barely had enough time to report on the Ryan Miller, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan and Marty St. Louis, Matt Moulson, and Thomas Vanek trades due to the Panthers big deal!

When Rory Babich was introduced as the team’s new president/CEO in a conference call Monday night, GM Dale Tallon promised some bold action by the team in the quest to bring a Stanley Cup to South Florida.”

Did you know the Panthers have a new president/CEO?  Well, they do, and GM Dale Tallon needed to remind Rory, and possibly himself, that the three middling draft picks, three minor leaguers, and aging goaltender they acquired are going to bring the Cup to the Miami area.  Get excited, Panthers fans.

He clearly wasn’t kidding.

OH HO HO!!!  Nice!

Are we still talking about the same thing?

The biggest, and most obvious, reason the Luongo trade was a good one for the Panthers is that it solidified their goaltending situation for the next several years.

Perhaps the truest sentiment of the article, and maybe the most disappointing for Luongo fans.  Luongo is signed through 2022 (he would be 42).  But, more importantly, the Panthers are hemorrhaging money, and they currently sit in thirtieth among spending.  There is no indication that they will – or will even be able to – spend money over the course of the next few years that Luongo is still a useful goaltender.

This is meant as no disrespect to Tim Thomas, who did a solid job in net after signing in September, but the reality is that Thomas will turn 40 years old next month.

South Floridians, of all people, should not be pointing out the drawbacks of age.

Luongo is five years younger and, as he pointed out during his introductory press conference on Wednesday, is still on top of his game.

As opposed to saying he is washed up?

Just compare his stats from this season (2.38 goals-against average, .917 save percentage) to his career numbers (2.51 GAA, .919 save percentage), and you’ll see he’s right.

The 3.16 GA/G of the Panthers was Tim Thomas’s fault.  No regression imminent for Luongo.

Luongo is just the type of goalie needed for a team loaded with young talent

Why?

Oh, because Tim Thomas was too old.

This trade was a long time coming, and in the end the Panthers worked out a good deal for themselves.

Just good?  You’re being too hard on yourself, Panthers PR guy.  Try “GREAT” deal!

As Tallon pointed out, Jacob Markstrom has plenty of potential as a goaltender, but he’s no longer the sure thing he once appeared. As for Shawn Matthias, he’s in the middle of one of his hot streaks now, but the reality is he wasn’t a core player for the Panthers moving forward and he also seemed to welcome a trade to a Canadian team.

“We pooped the bed developing this one guy, and this other guy was fine but he usually sucks and wants to go somewhere that doesn’t spend at about 75% cap capacity.”

The Panthers did trade away a couple of veteran free agents-to-be this week, with Marcel Goc going to Pittsburgh and Mike Weaver going to Montreal. Both of them should be saluted for their contributions to the Panthers, Weaver for his never-ending willingness to sacrifice his body and Goc for his consistent two-way play.

“But these guys were cool.  They didn’t suck like Shawn.  Sorry we traded them, but we sure as hell can’t afford to pay them.”

Anyway, go Panthers!  Should be a fun eight years or so with Luongo in net.

Something Redeemable

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Eh.  If all of that above didn’t entice you to watch a Panthers-Sabres game, then you cannot be helped.  But, here’s one more attempt to get you to watch.

With Markstrom, the Panthers have shown us the tenuous and never sure development of goalies, and what it takes to be an NHL goaltender.  This trade deadline, especially, showed how one team’s project can turn into another team’s backup, or vice versa.  Those of us in Kings-world have especially seen the difficulty in putting a serviceable goaltender on the ice night after night, but we have also seen what happens when you have a wealth of talent at the position.  Bernier gets traded to be someone else’s savior.  Ben Scrivens, here to be a backup, won a starting role on another team because of his play in what amounts to be just a handful of games.  Meanwhile, NHL ready Martin Jones waits his turn.  With Halak’s brief pit stop in Buffalo, the Jonas Enroth or Michal Neuvirth era will begin in Buffalo.  They developed Miller to the point of stardom, and now they have to start over once again with one unproven player and one player trying to prove he didn’t reach his peak at 21 years old.

Elsewhere, the Canucks hand over the keys to Eddie Lack while Markstrom gets new life, Viktor Fasth stops in Edmonton for a second audition, Thomas and Dan Ellis continue the dance of a backup – never to be “the guy” again – and at 34 years old Luongo steps back into the role of franchise goalie of an organization that wished he never left.

Um…also…the Panthers and Sabres sit in last and second to last in the Atlantic Division.  The Sabres (46 points) are the worst team in the league, and Florida (53 points) leads them by seven points.  Only the Oilers (52 points) are worse than the Panthers.  So, NHL draft lottery ramifications!

2013-14 Panthers and Sabres Season Highlights

Luongo Highlights

Luongo’s first run with the Panthers was full of memorable moments, and exciting highlights.  None more exciting or memorable than this moment from 2003.

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#LuongoForever

Prediction

Does it matter?  Did you even make it this far?  Jeez… okay, well, 2-0 Florida, Luongo has a shutout going into the final two minutes.  The Sabres score two goals.  Florida ends up winning in a twelve round shootout, 3-2.

Flubber McGee is TRH's resident Kansas City correspondent, and has survived as a Kings fan long before the dawn of Internet streaming sites. He has seen the Kings win exactly zero non-exhibition games in person. Have you ever achieved enlightenment? Flubber has, because he once witnessed Kevin and Brett Westgarth fight in, and get kicked out of, the same game (they didn't fight each other, unfortunately). In addition to being a part of TRH, Flubber runs a Kansas City hockey blog. It's exactly what you think it is. You can follow Flubber McGee on Twitter @FlubberMcGee.